That old stand-by, the yard sale or garage sale, is one of the worst possible ways to sell your stuff if you actually want to make some money.
I know there are some people who succeed at yard sales and have them year after year. Believe it or not, yard sales in rural areas can prove more successful than those in urban areas.
That’s because you’ve got far less competition out in the country than in the city. Where I live, yard sales run from about 7 or 8 a.m. to around noon to 1:00. That might seem like a long time, but it doesn’t allow yard sale shoppers to hit a lot of different sales.
Even if you think you do well at yard sales, there are better ways to sell your stuff that involve less work and more profit. Here are 5 reasons why you should think twice about having a hard sale, no matter where you live.
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Enormous Amount of Work
Having a yard sale doesn’t just involve the four or five hours you sit with your stuff and interact with buyers.
You’ll spend days gathering up crap from every nook and cranny of your house, most of which you should have just trashed. Instead, you’ll figure you may as well try to sell it since you’re having the yard sale anyway.
The more stuff you plan to sell, the more you need to sort and price. You’ll need to advertise your sale by putting up signs and advertising your sale on Craigslist, Nextdoor and Facebook.
After the sale, you need to pack all of your unsold stuff back into boxes. Then, it either goes back into storage or to a charity thrift store.
A big problem with yard sales is the weather. You need to plan a yard sale weeks in advance so you have time to gather and price your items. Community yard sales are often planned months in advance.
You have no idea whether you’ll be blessed with beautiful weather or you’ll face pouring rain or a hot, scorching sun. I found out how miserable the latter is when I had a yard sale one weekend. The front of my house gets the full morning sun, making a day that’s simply warm feel like a sweltering hot day.
A rainy or stormy day can mean no yard sale for you, or an abbreviated one, flushing all of your previous work down the tubes.
No offense intended to yard sale buyers, but most of them want to buy your stuff for almost nothing. It’s really frustrating after you’ve gone through all the aggravation of having a yard sale, and someone offers you $10 for a 20 pieces of nice clothing.
People who go to the trouble of traveling around to yard sales probably don’t want to pay thrift store prices, which are already pretty low. That means they want to pay well below thrift store prices when they visit yard sales.
Many yard sale buyers want to pay rock bottom prices not for their families, but so they can re-sell your stuff online and make a tidy profit. The resellers are likely to arrive early to get the best stuff, or they might arrive late when they think you’ll be desperate to unload whatever you have left.
I’m not knocking resellers, but you need to be aware that you’re serving as a middleman when you could be selling your stuff online on your own and getting a whole lot more money for it.
Very Little Profit
Even if you get lots of buyers, the money adds up slowly. If you itemize your taxes, you can almost certainly do better by donating your stuff to a charity thrift store.
Make sure you get a receipt for your donations, and enter them into ItsDeductible. It’s a free service from the makers of TurboTax software, and it’ll help you get the maximum tax deduction for your donations.
Before you have a yard sale or donate your items, check to see if you can sell your stuff online for a tidy profit. Research a few items on eBay, and scan your books and CDs using the free Amazon Seller smartphone app to see if you can get enough to make it worthwhile listing them (around $7 or $8 is my minimum).
On eBay, you can choose Completed Listings on the left when you search for items like yours. That’ll tell you whether similar items are selling and if so, for how much. The price will show in green for completed listings which sold, and in black for those that did not sell.
Have you had successful yard sales? Do you donate excess stuff to charity thrift stores? Do you get a receipt and include those donations on your taxes?